Coping systems are those options we use to help us survive or cope when life throws us a curve. Coping systems depend upon immediate reactive actions that are not initiated through logic. They are used to help tame the immediate threat and so survive its demands.
Such stresses may come from an expressed or implied judgment, like the rejection from a peer or a loved one, or the demands of an unappreciative boss. They can arise from a task that seems insurmountable or does not respond to our attempts at management. They may take the form of self-doubt that frustrates our efforts to express ourselves, making us look less intelligent, appealing, or capable than we think we are.
The action is not usually an intelligent or rational conclusion as it is only used immediately to remove, satisfy, or dodge the situation through three meansby:
- Defusing the Force of the Opposition The defusing tactic directs activity toward the threat in an effort to overpower it and cause it to withdraw. We may respond aggressively with anger, hostility, rage, control, jealousy, self-harm, anorexia, or perfectionism or passively via manipulation, guilt, trickery or even threats of self-harm as a means of persuading the opposition to relent.
- Appeasing the Opposition Here we overcompensate for our personal deficit by trying to service the opposition so that its demands are lessened, currying favour through obligation, subservience, obsequiousness or compliance.
- Avoiding Responsibility This unhealthy response may take such devious paths that we do not always see it as evasion. It can be defiance, procrastination, or even the expression of fear that allows us to be excused from being involved. On the other hand, diversion into pleasurable activities as a way of avoiding responsibility can show up as alcohol/drug use, gambling, partying, gaming fixation, excessive sexual promiscuity, pornography addiction or compulsive shopping.
Real management, of course, sees stress, less as something to be simply survived, and more as a stimulus to deepen, broaden and strengthen the inner resources and enhance a stronger, more resilient core.